Mar 20, 2023 - Politics

Lisa Calderón secures progressive backing in Denver mayoral race

Denver mayoral candidate Lisa Calderón during an event outside the City and County Building promoting her endorsement from progressive groups on Friday in Denver. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios

Three progressive advocacy groups are uniting behind Lisa Calderón's bid for Denver mayor.

Details: The recent endorsements from the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition and Working Families Party gives voters another way to differentiate among the 16 candidates, who are mostly Democrats.

Why it matters: Thanks to their backing, Calderón can now lay claim to being the progressive candidate — and the collective support from the far-left groups signals growing momentum for her candidacy.

What they're saying: "We don't need to be competing against each other at this point, we need to be coalescing in a common purpose," Calderón said Friday during a press conference about other progressive mayoral candidates.

  • She opposes Referred Measure 2O, and said creating a task force with people who want to see open spaces and build affordable housing would be among her first moves as mayor.

Zoom in: Colorado Working Families Party state director Wendy Howell said they threw their support behind Calderón because she will put people first before corporations or lobbyists — a key component of progressive politics.

  • "She is a tireless advocate for regular people in Denver," Howell said. "I think that's exactly what we need here."
  • Katie Blakey of Denver DSA said the endorsement is an effort to unify left-leaning organizations in the city around socialist values, which Blakey said focus on "uplifting the working class in Denver."
  • Other values include seeing housing as a human right, ending the city's encampment sweeps, supporting unions and repealing the state's rent control ban.

Between the lines: Calderón anointment snubs other high-profile candidates, including state Rep. Leslie Herod and activist Ean Thomas Tafoya, who are running as progressive champions.

  • Calderón invited other progressive candidates to support her, though she didn't name any specific candidates.
  • Her supporters touted her tying Kelly Brough and Mike Johnston with 5% support among candidates in a poll conducted last month by SurveyUSA and commissioned by several local media outlets.

Of note: She is also backed by progressive candidates running for Denver City Council, including Tiffany Caudill, Shannon Hoffman and Sarah Parady.

  • The three attended Friday's event and are looking to join incumbent Councilmember Candi CdeBaca in shifting the council from a moderate political body to a more progressive one.

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